ORIENT IV 2020: Syria – Dynamics of war and issues of reconstruction

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Editorial

Dear ORIENT readers,

The war in Syria erupted nine years ago and the implications for the people of Syria, neighbouring countries and the region have been immense. At a large cost to human life, a once hopeful protest turned into an entrenched war between a myriad of factions, some locally rooted, some sponsored by external actors. Despite all this, the al-Assad regime, supported by Russia and Iran, is holding on to power.

In this issue of ORIENT we would like to take a closer look at some of the dynamics of the Syrian war and the issues that surround future efforts to not only find a lasting political solution but also to rebuild the country – almost entirely from ruins. What is the situation on the ground for reconstruction in regime-held areas? What factors are at play when Syrians contemplate returning and reconstructing their lives? Which role can and should international players have and what conditions are to be met, as many actors are not willing to cooperate with the al-Assad regime?

Stefan Lukas first looks closely at how winning parties in the conflict are beginning to reap the benefits of their engagement. Jon D. Unruh then analyses issues regarding reconstruction and sanctions and Isabel Bramsen delves into the factors behind the militarisation of the conflict. David Ribar and Ethan B. Kapstein continue with an analysis of rebel groups’ behaviour and Kholoud Mansour provides a realistic assessment of the potential return of displaced people. Finally, Erwin van Veen, Engin Yüksel and Haşim Tekineş look across the border and give insights into Turkey’s role.

I hope that the current issue provides you with valuable perspectives on the current developments around the war in Syria. We hope that you and your loved ones stay healthy.

Dr Gunter Mulack
Director of the German Orient-Institute

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